The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has finally started moving forward. With tax penalties under Obamacare slated to take effect this year, you need to know what you can do to avoid getting hit with a surprising extra bill.

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, looks at the Obamacare tax penalties, noting that to get nine months of qualifying coverage, enrollees need to have insurance by March 31. Dan emphasizes the importance of having a qualifying plan, and then runs through some of the exemptions to the penalties. The primary exemption applies if you have to pay more than 8% of your income for the lowest-cost plans, but other causes of economic hardship are less difficult to meet. With provisions including everything from bankruptcy, victims of domestic violence, those who've been evicted from their homes, and those who've gotten utility shutdown notices -- among several other possible exemptions -- it's entirely possible that relatively few people will end up paying Obamacare tax penalties this year and in future years.

Dan Caplinger and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.